Star Trek: The Original Series – “Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Star Trek - S1E2 P2S1E3 - _Charlie X_ and _Where No Man Has Gone Before_
Original Image via Wiki Media Commons

 

Welcome the second installment of my Star Trek watch through! You can find other posts in this series linked at the bottom, and the original post – including my watch order – here. Without further ado, let’s jump into the episodes.

 

 

Episode #2 – “Charlie X”

The episode starts out with Charlie Evans, a seventeen-year-old from a planet called Thasus, where he was orphaned when the ship he was on crashed. He has strange powers – the transmutation of objects and people – and causes a lot of trouble for the crew of the enterprise as he fumbles his way through his first human interactions since the age of three. He supposedly taught himself to speak by talking to his old ship’s onboard computer, and he becomes irrationally angry whenever anyone doesn’t like him. After making a crew member disappear into thin air in front of Captain Kirk, Charlie and the Captain begin to butt heads, and Charlie attempts to take control of the ship when Kirk tries to derail their course away from Alpha V, where Charlie’s closest relatives live. The natives of the planet Thasus, the Thasians, arrive in very cool glowy green ships to retrieve Charlie, who ran away without their knowledge. In order for the boy to survive on their planet, they had to grant him his powers, but they cannot be taken away, and his having them makes him too dangerous to live amongst humans. Charlie immediately begins pleading with the crew of the Enterprise to let him stay, despite the fact that he’s been trying to murder them for the past few days.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, as it felt very true to traditional science fiction. The taking of one element and exploiting it, whether by making it cease to exist or making it the sole reason for something – in this case whether or not people liked Charlie – to me is the essence of science fiction writing. Charlie had all of this power, but none of the wisdom to use it safely. Watching his blunders and antics reminded me of the many children’s books involving the dangers of untrained magic. Training without power may seem silly, but power without training typically means certain death no matter what your age is. The fact that we had this boy at the height of puberty with a ton of power and no training in human interaction lent an idea for a very interesting storyline. Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve had nightmares involving people with powers like these, but that’s probably a story for another day.

Overall it was very well done. The fact that Yeoman Janice, Captain Kirk, and Doctor McCoy all attempted to explain puberty, men/women, and general human interaction to someone without saying any of the words they actually needed to use because those words weren’t allowed on cable in the 60s was cracking me up, but it was also a very good lesson in story writing.

 

Pilot #2 / Episode #3 – “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

This episode was originally produced as a second pilot for the series and actually takes place at an earlier stardate than the first two aired episodes, despite this episode being aired third. As I just looked up, the stardates, while allowing the creators to build a rough timeline, were just an arbitrary mix of numbers that weren’t meant to correspond to a specific year so that viewers couldn’t make snide comments about whether things would exist the way they do on the show at that future date.

The first few things I noticed were Leonard Nimoy’s crazy eyebrows and the simplified detailing on the sleeves of the command shirts. It was much fancier in episode #2. Also, this was Scotty’s first official appearance! Although I’m not all convinced that was James Doohan. After that, the biggest things were the lack of Uhura’s presence and the general treatment of women, which really stuck out when Yeoman Smith clutched Gary Mitchell’s arm as the ship flew through a strange forcefield. Honestly, if you’re part of a space crew whose mission is to explore uncharted areas, why would you be so easily scared of a space-storm/forcefield? Dr. Dehner wasn’t scared at all, but then again nothing scares her throughout the episode, so maybe she’s just made of sterner stuff. Plenty of characters made cameos in the episode, including Sulu, but just about everyone felt flat. Kirk was overemotional in part to compensate for Spock’s decided lack of emotion – which is a huge point of contention in this episode – and it made him come off as whiny. The episode ends with Spock admitting that he was sad about Mitchell’s fate, and Kirk responding that there is hope for him yet.

 

Unlike “Charlie X”, which I enjoyed specifically for the storyline, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” felt like a string of ideas strung together. Like “The Cage”, every action had multiple meanings, and you could see and feel what was contrived for the show itself and what allowances were made for the studio in order to get the show green-lit. It is strange to me that two episodes of the same show could read so differently to me, but there you have it.

I’m really enjoying the special effects! The way they make things disappear and reappear is pretty awesome. Both of these episodes had actors and lighting doing strange things with the characters’ eyes, and entire walls and people disappeared! Having a background in production, I am especially curious as to how they are doing the disappearances specifically. I don’t think it’s green screening, but I also don’t think it’s two pieces of film being merged together somehow. I’ll try to get to the bottom of it for my next post.

I’m still enjoying the series. Every episode feels like it’s own universe, and while I’m only a few episodes in, the cast already feels diverse to me. I can only imagine what people thought of it in the 60s!

Until next time,

Amanda

 

 

Other posts in this watch through:
Star Trek: The Original Series
“The Cage” and “The Man Trap”
“The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”
“Mudd’s Women” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (COMING SOON)

Star Trek: The Original Series – “The Cage” and “The Man Trap”

 

Star Trek - P1 S1E1 - _The Cage_ and _The Man Trap_
Original Image via Wiki Media Commons

 

 

Recently I read a book called Geekerella by Ashley Poston. It reminded me just out of the loop I am when it comes to science fiction, and how horrible of a way that would be to go out. So, I’ve decided to change that.  To start with, I’m going to watch all of Star Trek. All. Of. It.

My review of Geekerella will be posted on Tuesday, and then you can find it here.

 

Star Trek had its beginning in the 1960s, when my parents were infants. This never stopped my mother from becoming a fan. With the return of science fiction worlds like Star Trek, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and so many others to both the big and small screens, it’s about time that I took the dive into this particular brave, new world.

I’ve decided to start at the beginning, since that is the most logical place to begin. I’m following the watch order that can be found here on digg, and also reproduced for you below:

  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • The Animated Series
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • The Next Generation Seasons 1-7
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Deep Space Nine Seasons 1-5
  • Voyager Seasons 1-2
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Deep Space Nine Seasons 6-7
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Voyager Seasons 3-7
  • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • Enterprise
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • Star Trek: Beyond
  • Star Trek: Discovery

I’m going to watch somewhere between 1-3 episodes at a time and then let you know what I think of them. Let us see how long this project takes me. I’m also watching the show via Netflix, so that could have some impact on which episodes are aired when.

Now, I should warn you that I’m not a complete newbie when it comes to Star Trek, but growing up I was too busy reading fairytales to watch more than a few bits of whichever episode was on television, and I’m guessing I don’t get bonus points for understanding references on The Big Bang Theory or for watching the 2009 reboot film and Into Darkness when they came out.

Going into this, I was already aware that there were two pilots, and that the show was ushered into existence by Lucille Ball and her studio, Desilu Productions. (don’t be surprised. I read and I know things.) But what I didn’t know and wasn’t actually prepared for was the sheer amount of differences between the two showings, including an almost complete 180 of the cast.

 

Pilot #1 – “The Cage”

Christopher Pike is fantastic. I really enjoyed Jeffrey Hunter’s acting (he’s also not hard on the eyes). Is it just me, or was Spock mildly human in this episode? He actually seemed worried that Pike had been captured. The whole Adam and Eve shtick was probably a lot less overused in the 60’s, but it still played nicely here. I quite enjoyed the large-brained aliens – maybe they are the precursor to the large-headed green ‘Martians’ we so frequently see today in science fiction? Wonderful use of special effects. I even loved the obviously homemade communicators.

My favorite part of the entire episode was Number One. I know Majel Barrett got the worst of the critics for her performance, but I’m convinced that’s only because she was so ahead of her time. Sure, she ‘tried to fit in with the boys’ by not screaming at Pike that she’s a woman just like Yeoman Colt and instead holds her tongue, but she has a quiet authority that Pike trusts and the crew obeys without question when Pike is taken out of commission and the ship falls under her command. I appreciated how she calmly handled things, and how quickly she came to the correct conclusion about Vina’s origin significantly before Pike did (because she did research). I would have loved to see how the gender-war played out in that cast and in that time period. It very well could have revolutionized the feminist movement, and we might have been where we are now with feminism nearly 50 years earlier. But that’s a much longer discussion. Basically what I’m saying is that in Number One’s quiet yet absolute authority I see traces of the women I look up to today, not the least of them being Wonder Woman.

 

You could say that I really liked this episode. 😉

 

Episode #1 – “The Man Trap”

Compared to “The Cage”, this episode was underwhelming. The effects were still good, the communicators looked more like little flip-phones than homemade junk, and the extended look at the ship was interesting. Unfortunately, the cast felt indifferent. Sure, you have your Captain Kirk (William Shatner), and Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Sulu (George Takei), and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and, of course, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Those characters I know from the reboots. I was slightly surprised by how easily they killed off cast – four crew members are killed by the ‘salt vampire’ before it is destroyed.

The scenes between Spock and Uhura show potential, though I was surprised by how openly Uhura flirted with Spock. I guess I just didn’t expect that in the first episode?

Overall it was a decent start, and I look forward to watching more episodes.

 

Until next time,

Amanda

 

 

Other posts in this watch through:
Star Trek: The Original Series
“Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
“The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”
“Mudd’s Women” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (COMING SOON)